Spring has sprung...slowly..and aren't we H-A-P-P-Y? After such a wicked winter, the sunshine is more than welcome. It’s definitely my favorite season of the year. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying sunshine. It tends to warm us up inside and out.
This is the time of year we begin thinking about spring cleaning. I feel more like cleaning on a sunny day than a cloudy one, and realize it’s much easier to see dirt and dust in the natural light.
There are many uses for household products such as vinegar and baking soda, so I thought I would remind you of some cleaning ‘tricks’ using these simple on-hand products to help get your home sparkling.
Nontoxic Bathroom Cleaner: Here’s a terrific deep-cleaning cleanser recipe that works on any bathroom surface. It cuts through soap scum and mildew as well as any commercial bathroom product and costs just pennies. Clean Green!
1-2/3 c. baking soda
1/2 c. liquid dishsoap
1/2 c. water
2 Tb. white vinegar
1 clean 16-ounce spray bottle with closing cap
Mix baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with water and add the vinegar. Stir the mixture with a fork until any lumps have been dissolved. Pour the liquid into the bottle. Shake well before using. Spray on area to be cleaned. Scrub with a nylon-backed sponge. Rinse off with water.
Remove Stains on Carpet: Lift out many stains from your carpet with vinegar. Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
Refresh the Fridge: Did you know that vinegar might be an even more effective safe cleanser for your refrigerator than baking soda? Use equal parts white vinegar and water to wash both the interior and exterior of your fridge. To prevent mildew growth, wash the inside walls and bin interiors with some full-strength vinegar on a cloth. Also use undiluted vinegar to wipe off accumulated dust and grime on top of your refrigerator. Of course, you’ll still want to put that box of baking soda inside your refrigerator to keep it smelling clean when you’re done.
Vinegar acts as an odor absorber. That in and of itself, is interesting. My favorite use for vinegar is to set a bowl of it in a musty room. It absorbs the odor and does not leave the room smelling like vinegar.
I found this one-dish casserole recipe at “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” blog online and it is wonderful! They have fantastic ideas and recipes. This would be a great dish to help use up your leftover Easter ham. Easy too. Recipe can easily be cut in half.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9” X 13” baking dish. Layer chicken, ham and cheese. Saute onion in butter. Stir in flour and whisk in milk; add dry mustard and seasonings. Cook and stir until thickened. Pour over ham mixture and sprinkle with topping.
2-1/2 c. coarse bread crumbs
1/2 c. cheddar cheese,shredded
1/4 c. melted butter
Mix together until combined; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with rice and a vegetable or salad and enjoy!
This is a delicious and moist bread to enjoy any time of the year!
GLAZED COCONUT BREAD
1-2/3 c. sugar (I reduced it from 2 c.)
1 c.oil (or substitute half the amount with applesauce)
2 tsp. coconut extract
2 c. white whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. flaked coconut
1 c. buttermilk (see TIP below)
3/4 c. sugar (reduced from 1 c.)
1/3 c. water
2 Tb. butter
1 tsp. coconut extract
Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 large loaf pans. In large mixing bowl beat eggs until fluffy. Add the sugar, oil, applesauce and coconut extract and beat 3 more minutes.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and add to mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Add coconut and buttermilk. Pour batter into loaf pans and bake for about 45 minutes. (Be sure to check after 40 minutes). Remove pans from oven and set on wire rack.
Just a few minutes before the breads are finished baking, begin making the glaze by combining sugar, water and butter in small saucepan. Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute and then add in coconut extract. Slowly pour the glaze over the hot bread (while it's still in the pan).The glaze will soak into the bread and down the sides of the pan. When cool enough to handle, remove the bread from the pan and allow to finish cooling on the wire rack. Slice and serve or place in airtight container until ready to serve. (If you want to freeze ahead, wait to add glaze until after thawing).
TIP: You can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 Tb. white vinegar to a1 cup measuring cup; fill with milk; let stand 5 minutes before adding.
Here's a couple of awesome desserts to consider adding to your Easter menu. They're both impressive!
OATMEAL FRUIT BARS
1 pkg. (18 ozs) yellow cake mix
2-1/4 c. quick oats
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg or 1/4 c. egg substitute
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 to 1-1/2 cans (about 20 ozs. each) any flavor fruit pie filling
Preheat oven to 375. Spray 9"X13" baking pan with non stick cooking spray.
In medium bowl, combine dry cake mix and oats; blend in the butter and egg until crumbly. Save out 1 cup. Add brown sugar to remaining mixture. Press mixture into prepared pan. Spread pie filling over mixture in pan.Top with remaining mixture; press down lightly. Bake 22-26 minutes. Yield: 12-15 servings
1 9" Homemade pie crust, baked, or graham cracker crust (chocolate would be great too)
1 sm. box (4-serv.size) (sugar free) instant vanilla pudding
1 pint (2 c.) 1/2 & 1/2
2/3 c. crunchy peanut butter
1-1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 (8-ozs) container Lite Cool Whip
In small bowl, combine peanut butter and powdered sugar with a fork until crumbly. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine pudding mix with half and half; whisk for about 2 minutes. Stir in half the Cool Whip. Add about 2/3 of the peanut butter crumbles to the bottom of the crust, spreading evenly. Top with pudding and spread evenly. Add Cool Whip to the top and spread evenly. Top with the remaining peanut butter crumbles. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Be sure to take time to enjoy the sunshine. As a wise 80-something friend once said to me.."do what you can, while you can".
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I've slightly adapted a recipe found in the Halfmysize.com Cookbook, from Hungry Girl. (I added a little water to the 'sauce').
If you are fond of the combo of sweet taters and apples, as I am, you'll love this one too! Applesauce sweetens up this dish, naturally, and adds more texture overall to this scrumptious side dish. Each serving has 4 Weight Watchers (Old) Points..nutritional info below. TIP: I know sweet potatoes can be a real bugar to peel...I microwave mine just a few minutes to soften it up...poking a few holes into it prior. Makes the job of peeling a bit easier.
CROCKPOT SWEET POTATO CHUNKS
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
(about 4 medium potatoes)
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
(or 2 Tb. Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1 Tb. water
3 Tb. diet margarine, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
(or 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon & nutmeg - my preference)
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted
Place prepared sweet potatoes in crockpot sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix remaining ingredients, except pecans; spoon over potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 3 - 4 hours or until potatoes are very tender. Toast pecans in ungreased skillet over medium low heat for 5 - 7 minutes (or place in bowl in microwave - heat in 1 minute increments, stirring between each, until you can smell that nutty fragrance.)
Sprinkle pecans over sweet potatoes; serve immediately.